Saturday Review: From Under Mountains

From Under Mountains 1From Under Mountains (Image)
Writers: Claire Gibson and Marian Churchland
Artist: Sloane Leong

It’s no secret that we at Therefore I Geek are fantasy fans. And while Tracy is more of one than I am, I am by no means a slacker. The biggest difference is that while she gets her kicks from novels that usually weigh more than a newborn, I tend to go a bit more lightweight and go for comics (shocking, I’m sure). This week Image Comics debuts a brand new comic series From Under Mountains, which has of course, pique my fancy.

The title alone was enough to engage the fantasy centers of my brain. At once I had both images of Bilbo’s adventures under mountains in The Hobbit, as well as the classical piece In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Greig. There are even goblins that live under these mountains. It’s such a fitting name for a fantasy book. Even before I open the book, it already had my imagination set exactly where it should be.

The book opens with the summoning of a dark spirit that will come back into play towards the end of the issue. I appreciate the fact that there is no dialogue until half way down the third page. It takes a certain amount of skill and understanding of the medium to make a silent opening engaging to the reader, and the creative team does this well. In particular, I really enjoyed the color palette chosen for this portion of the book. Although it’s obviously a night scene, everything is illustrated in such a manner that things are clear and it’s easy to understand what is happening.

From Under Mountains 2

Wonderful, silent, first two pages.

Although this is a first issue, and there will undoubtedly be more explanation to follow, I could have used a little more exposition throughout. After the opening the book jumps through a couple of scenes that introduce characters and plot points, but none of it is really well defined. Names of what I assume are people and factions are dropped with very little context to explain what their function in the story is. I’m fine with in media res, but here I think some further explanation would have been beneficial. This becomes an issue again, later in the story, when the reader is forced to make a mental jump. I’m going to have to wait until the next issue to see if I made the correct one, since there are at least three possibilities that I can see.

The art has a loose quality to it that makes it very fitting for most of the book, though at times I feel like it would benefit from being slightly cleaner. I also found that background art to be very minimal. Those times when there was more than a basic color wash, the backgrounds were nice, and helped to set the scene. In fact, on a second look, it seems that the majority of panels with backgrounds are those setting a scene, and that once that has been taken care of, the backgrounds really aren’t bothered with, which is a shame.

While not a perfect first issue, there is definitely enough here for me to come back and check out the next several issues. From the looks of things, this is writer Claire Gibson’s first work for a major publisher, so I think it’s only fair to take a few issues and let her get up to a running pace with things. I’m on board for now, and we’ll see where things go from here.

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Filed under Comic Reviews, Comics, Saturday Reviews

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